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 Part 1: Absorbing the program and philosophy
 
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A) Reading and Discussing the Foreword to the First Edition
Do not skip the Title Page and the Foreword to the First Edition. They introduce the program and define some of the basic concepts needed to work the Twelve Steps.
 
 

Welcome to The Recoveries Anonymous Step Presentation.
You will fully work all twelve steps by thoroughly following all the
pioneers' original "clear-cut directions" from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.

To get started we will read and discuss:

THE TITLE PAGE

and the

FOREWORD TO FIRST EDITION


1. You may be asking, "Why do we need to look at the 'Title Page' in the Big Book?"

2. You may also be asking,"Why do we have to go through the Forewords from the Big Book?"

3. If you did as we suggested, and read the story "He Sold Himself Short" in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, you know that Earl T. spent two or three weeks talking at length about the program and the fellowship with the recovered people he met.

4. During this time, they almost surely gave him most of the information that is now on the Title Page and in the Forewords. The pioneers thought it was important enough to include this information in the front of the Big Book. Therefore, this information is also important enough for us to go over in R.A.'s Step Presentation.

5. We will start our discussion of The Original Way Out Revealed: R.A.'s Annotated Multilith Big Book by opening to  the title page.

6. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, "THE TITLE PAGE" is on page Q. Please turn to it now.

7. While it may be possible to use the current Big Book to go through this presentation, the changes made to its text make it very hard to see the original "clear-cut directions." Therefore, it will be far easier and far more effective if you use a copy of The Original Way Out Revealed: R.A.'s Annotated Multilith Big Book. To keep things simple, from here on we will call it R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. If you do not already have one, we suggest that you visit R.A.'s main website and get a copy.

8. The first thing that we believe it is important for you to note is that the original name of the Big Book was "Alcoholic's Anonymous" with an incorrect apostrophe.

9. In the first printing of the hardcover version of the Big Book, they removed the apostrophe and added a subtitle. It said, "The Story Of How More Than 100 Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism."

10. With each printing of the first edition, they updated the subtitle. For example, the eighth printing of the first edition said, "The Story Of How More Than 14,000 Men And Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism."

11. As the Fellowship grew, the pioneers kept updating the subtitle. They also updated other numbers referred to throughout the text of the first edition of the Big Book.

12. Finally, they changed the subtitle to its current version. It now says, "The Story Of How Many Thousands Of Men And Women Have Recovered From Alcoholism."

13. The second thing we believe it is important for you to note is that right from the beginning, in the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book, the pioneers used the word "recovered."

14. Now let's turn to page 8, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It is important to see the title that the pioneers gave to the second chapter in the Big Book. They named it "There is a Solution."

15. The third thing we believe it is important for you to note is something that is not in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It is only on the bottom of page v, which is Roman numeral five, in the current Big Book. On this page, Dr. Bob's story is described by saying, "DR. BOB'S NIGHTMARE A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10, 1935."

16. Later in this presentation we will discuss what the pioneers meant when they said that they "recovered." We will also look at why they said that they found that "There Is A Solution," and that this solution can produce a "permanent" recovery.

17. The pioneers wanted to attract people to their new program. Therefore, it is easy to understand why they decided to start their book by using these attractive terms.

18. It is also easy to imagine what would have happened if they had instead used some of the expressions that are in use today. They would have attracted far fewer people.

19. How many people do you think the pioneers would have been able to attract to the program, if they had told them, "You will be as sick when you finish the program, as when you start." How attractive is it to say, "No matter what you do, no matter how hard you work, you will always be hanging on with white knuckles, one day at a time for the rest of your life?"

20. So right from the start, with the full Title of the Big Book, they begin to define the program in positive terms. They did this so that newcomers would become willing to go to any length to get what the pioneers had found.

21. The "FOREWORD TO FIRST EDITION" is next. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S the subtitle says, "This is the Foreword as it appeared in the first printing of the first edition in 1939."

22. To keep things in perspective, we need to spend a few minutes discussing the various editions of the Big Book.

23. The First Edition of the Big Book was published in April of 1939. Over the next sixteen years more than 300,000 copies were printed. The Second Edition of the Big Book was published in 1955. Over the next twenty years more than 1,150,500 were printed. The Third Edition of the Big Book was published in 1976. Over the next twenty-four years more than 19,550,000 were published in various formats.

24. There is also a Fourth Edition published in 2001. The text in the front of the Big Book is almost unchanged in all four editions. However, the stories at the back of the book did change in each edition.

25. In the "Preface" to the Fourth Edition of the Big Book, it says that they did not make any radical changes between the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Editions. However, we already know that they did make some changes that they apparently did not consider radical.

26. As the fellowship grew, the text of the subtitle of the book was updated. They changed, "One Hundred Men" to, "Many Thousands Of Men And Women."

27. In addition, the Multilith Big Book is the original, group conscience approved, typewritten manuscript for the Big Book. The pioneers did make radical changes to it when they moved its text into the current version of the Big Book that we are familiar with today. Therefore, we need to discuss the Multilith Copy of the Big Book.

28. Writing the Big Book was an elaborate affair. Bill would prepare a draft of a chapter. He would read it to the New York group and then send it out to Dr. Bob in Akron. Dr. Bob would show it to some of the Akron members and then to the whole Akron Group. Bill would then make changes to reflect the criticisms and suggestions he received. He would then repeat this process until the group conscience had approved the content of the entire typewritten manuscript.

29. They originally printed four hundred mimeographed copies of this typewritten manuscript. Back then, a company named "Multilith" used to make Mimeograph machines. It is likely that they used a Mimeograph machine made by the "Multilith" company to print the four hundred copies of the manuscript. Therefore, they started calling the original typewritten manuscript, the Multilith Copy of the Big Book.

30. They distributed the four hundred copies to members of the fellowship and to friends in the fields of medicine and religion, for suggestions. They received many suggestions, but several were of special importance.

31. If you do not have a copy of A.A. Comes of Age, please just listen while this passage is read to you. If you do have a copy of A.A. Comes of Age available, please open it to the bottom of page 167. Starting with the next to last paragraph, it says:

"By now great numbers of the 400 mimeographs which had been sent out had been returned. The total reaction was very good—indeed it was wonderful. Many helpful suggestions had been made, and two of these were critically important.

"One of them came from Dr. Howard, a well known psychiatrist of Montclair, New Jersey. He pointed out that the text of our book was too full of the words 'you' and 'must.' He suggested that we substitute wherever possible such expressions as 'we ought,' or 'we should.' His idea was to remove all forms of coercion, to put our fellowship on a 'we ought' basis instead of a 'you must' basis. To make this shift throughout the text of the book would be a big job. I argued weakly against it but soon gave in; it was perfectly apparent that the doctor was dead right. Dr. Silkworth and Dr. Tiebout gave us similar advice and much more besides. And we must never forget that it was Dr. Silkworth who wrote the Introduction to the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, giving the volume medical standing."

32. The suggestion that Doctor Howard made seems simple enough. Just go through the Multilith Big Book, find each place it says, "you must" and change most of them to "we ought" or "we should."

33. But, Doctor Howard also suggested that the pioneers "remove all forms of coercion."

34. So, Bill went further. He not only changed "you must" to "we ought" or "we should," he also changed most of the text to the past tense.

35. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 31, in the first full paragraph, there is a clear-cut direction that says, "For you are now to go on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God."

36. In the current Big Book on page 68, in the second paragraph this sentence was changed to say, "For we are now on a different basis; the basis of trusting and relying upon God."

37. Therefore, instead of a clear-cut direction saying that "you are now to go on...the basis of trusting and relying upon God," we have a confusing situation. We have to infer that since the pioneers were now on a different basis, we should also go on a different basis.

38. They made another change. Unfortunately, it obscured the fact that the Big Book was originally designed to contain the pioneers' clear-cut directions. They removed most of the Big Book's references to "directions."

39. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 26 in the first paragraph, it says, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions."

40. This was changed. In the Big Book, on page 58 in the first paragraph, it says, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

41. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 26, in the second paragraph, they also changed, "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to follow directions."

42. To what it now says, in the current Big Book on page 58, in the second paragraph, "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps."

43. In both examples, the pioneers changed the word "directions." In the first sentence, they changed it to "path." In the second paragraph, they changed it to "take certain steps."

44. The suggestion that Doctor Howard made was not the only one that was received.

45. If you do not have a copy of A.A. Comes of Age, please just listen while this passage is read to you. If you do have a copy of A.A. Comes of Age available, please open it to page 168. Starting in the bottom paragraph, it says:

"Then the good news came. By messenger we had sent the book Alcoholics Anonymous to the Catholic Committee on Publications in the New York Archdiocese. Our messenger was Morgan R., released only a few weeks before from Greystone asylum and himself the first Catholic to put in an appearance in New York. It turned out he knew a member of the Church Committee on Publications. So we sent Morgan. Not long after he returned with wonderful things to tell us.

"The Committee, he said, had nothing but the best to say of our efforts. From their point of view the book was perfectly all right as far as it went. After reading the section on meditation and prayer, the Committee had made certain suggestions for improvement, though none for actual change. Morgan had brought these with him and they looked so good that we adopted them on the spot. In only one sentence of the entire book had they found it necessary to suggest a real change. At the conclusion of my own story, Chapter I of the original draft, I had made a rhetorical flourish to the effect that 'we have found Heaven right here on this good old earth.' Morgan's friend on the Committee pointed this out to him with a smile and said, 'Don't you think that Bill W. could change that word "Heaven" to "Utopia"? After all, we Catholics are promising folks something much better later on!' The Committee took no official action; they just sent us word that we were all right. Indeed this has since been the verdict of practically all denominations, a fact for which we are devoutly grateful."

46. The Committee made certain suggestions about the section dealing with meditation and prayer. They also suggested removing the reference to "Heaven" at the end of Bill's Story.

47. As we will see when we discuss prayer and meditation, these suggestions also made it more difficult to see and follow the pioneers' clear-cut directions.

48. If you have a copy of A.A. Comes of Age, please turn to page 169. In the second full paragraph, Bill describes how he and his friend Henry, used a Multilith to prepare a "printer's copy" of what was to become the Big Book. It says:

"Nothing now remained except to prepare the printer's copy of the book. We selected one of the mimeographs, and in Henry's clear handwriting all the corrections were transferred to it. There were few large changes but the small ones were very numerous. The copy was hardly legible and we wondered if the printer would take it, heavily marked up as it was. Henry and I went to New York and soon found ourselves face to face with Edward Blackwell, president of the Cornwall Press. In high spirits, we told him we were ready to go."

49. R.A.'s Multilith Big Book attempts to reproduce the "printer's copy" of the Multilith.

50. R.A.'s Multilith Big Book allows us to see the original text and the changes that the pioneers made on the same page. This makes it easier to see, understand, and follow the pioneers' clear-cut directions. That is why we recommend using it for this presentation.

51. Please turn back to the "Foreword to First Edition," on page S, in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. The subtitle says: "This is the Foreword as it appeared in the first printing of the first edition in 1939."

52. This sentence was added when they reprinted the Foreword to the First Edition in the Second, Third, and Fourth Editions.

53. You are now going to read aloud a full paragraph from R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, and then pause. Please read the original text only, not the changes. I will comment after you have read each paragraph.

54. Please start reading with the first paragraph on page S. It says:

"We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER is the main purpose of this book. For them, we think these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We hope this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not yet comprehend that he is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our new way of living has its advantages for all."

55. Notice that right from the beginning the pioneers describe themselves as "recovered." In the first sentence of this paragraph, they say that they are "one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body."

56. This sentence is probably the source of the subtitle that they added when they moved from the Multilith Big Book to the first hardcover edition of the Big Book.

57. Continuing in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, the second and third sentences say that, "To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER is the main purpose of this book. For them, we think these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary."

58. So, right from the beginning, the pioneers tell us the main purpose of the Big Book. However, we can see how the changes they made to the text for later versions make it harder to see the pioneers' "clear-cut directions."

59. In the current Big Book, this sentence was changed to say that, "To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book."

60. This change made it hard to see that the original purpose of the Big Book was to show us how we could recover.

61. The next sentence says that, "We hope this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic."

62. This sentence was changed to say, "We think..." instead of "We hope..." The pioneers apparently thought that "think" was more concrete than "hope."

63. This is significant because they are saying that the Big Book is an account of their experiences, not their hopes, or their dreams.

64. The Big Book is not presenting the pioneers' theories about how someone might recover. They're sharing their actual experiences, the details of the actions they all took to recover.

65. The next to last sentence says that, "Many do not yet comprehend that he is a very sick person."

66. This is significant because at the time the pioneers wrote the Big Book, society did not consider alcoholism to be an illness. Most people usually thought of alcoholism as a simple lack of willpower, or as a moral failure.

67. The idea that a person has a harmful problem or behavior because they are ill, not because they lack determination or moral fiber, is one of the great contributions the Big Book made to the world.

68. The last sentence of this paragraph says, "And besides, we are sure that our new way of living has its advantages for all."

69. This is an important sentence because the pioneers are letting us know that the program, the Twelve Steps, will work for all people, for anyone with any kind of problem or behavior.

70. The pioneers are also telling us that the program is not like other treatments we might have tried. It is not like a stay in a hospital, or like psychotherapy. We will not be able to stop working the program once we get well. It is a different way of living that we will have to continue for the rest of our lives.

71. The program is a way of living that is based upon age-old spiritual principles. Maybe this is the reason they removed the word "new" from this sentence. While this way of living might have been new to the pioneers, it was not new to the world.

72. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the second paragraph says:

"It is important that we remain anonymous because we are too few, at present, to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which will result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event. We would like it clearly understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation only, so that when writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as 'A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous.' "

73. The first two sentences of this paragraph say that, "It is important that we remain anonymous because we are too few, at present, to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which will result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event."

74. They apparently were a little less sure of themselves in later versions where they changed "will result" to "may result."

75. This passage is important because it gives the original reason they wanted to be anonymous. There were so few members that they thought the large number of people looking for help would overwhelm them. They thought they would not be able to maintain their normal lives.

76. The first part of the next sentence says that, "We would like it clearly understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation only..."

77. An "avocation," for those who may not know, means "an activity that is taken up alongside one's regular work, or their profession, usually for enjoyment."

78. As most of us know, many people, including Bill, made the program their life's work. However, while Dr. Bob did intensively work with others, he also maintained his medical practice.

79. Continuing in this paragraph, the second half of this sentence says, "...so that when writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as 'A Member of Alcoholics Anonymous.' "

80. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the next paragraph says:

"Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped."

81. This makes it clear that they did not originally intend to use anonymity to keep the fellowship, or their membership in it, a secret. A member of the program could write or talk to the public about the program so long as their full name did not appear in the press.

82. Again, this shows that they desired anonymity simply because they believed that if everybody knew that they were members of the program, they would be sought out by so many people seeking recovery that they would not be able to carry on their normal lives.

83. Obviously, today the press often does not respect the pioneers' request for anonymity. The press has been known to instantly report that someone has been seen at a meeting, is in the program, or has gone into rehab. However, for a long time, this did not seem to affect the program. There was such a proven track record of success that if someone identified as a member got drunk in public, it did not seem to reflect on the program. It just reflected on them.

84. Today, this is changing. There are many well-known personalities who have been identified as members of a Twelve Step program. Their slips are often widely reported. They are often shown repeatedly going in and out of various rehab programs and facilities. This has unfortunately allowed the Twelve Step programs to become the subject of ridicule in the press and among many potential members.

85. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the fourth paragraph says:

"We are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word. There are no fees nor dues whatsoever. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. We are not allied with any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted."

86. The first two sentences of this paragraph say that, "We are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word. There are no fees or dues whatsoever."

87. When the pioneers wrote the Big Book, this was unusual to say the least. Most of the treatments for alcoholism required a stay in a hospital or sanitarium. This was often very expensive. These treatments were usually not successful. Health insurance and welfare were not available to most people. A group that was providing free assistance was unheard-of.

88. The third sentence in this paragraph says that, "The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking."

89. This is the first mention of the idea that they eventually modified to become the Third Tradition. They removed the word "honest" when they wrote the tradition. They recognized that an honest desire to stop drinking could exist alongside the desire to continue drinking.

90. They also did not want to place anyone, not even the alcoholics themselves, in the position of having to judge if they, or someone else, had an "honest" desire to stop, as opposed to any other type of desire they might have.

91. The most important point of this change is that it makes it clear that they did not require someone to take any action to be a member. Someone did not even have to try to stop drinking. Someone just needed a desire to stop to be a member.

92. The fourth and fifth sentences in this paragraph say, "We are not allied with any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted."

93.The program is spiritual in nature. However, it does not endorse any specific religion or faith. The program also does not take any positions against any religion or faith. The goal of the program is simply to help those who are still suffering.

94. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the fifth paragraph says:

"We shall be interested to hear from those who are getting results from this book, particularly from those who have commenced work with other alcoholics. We shall try to contact such cases."

95. They expected people to get results just from reading the Big Book. They wanted to hear from them. They especially wanted to hear from people who were following their directions to begin working with others. They were offering their help to them.

96. If you are using a copy of R.A.'s Multilith Big Book for this presentation, we recommend that you read the story, "Lone Endeavor." This story is at the back of R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. It starts on the first of the two pages that are numbered 391.

97. "Lone Endeavor" is the story of one of the first people to recover by following the directions in the Big Book on his own, without the benefit of a nearby group.

98. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the sixth paragraph says:

"Inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies will be welcomed."

99. We think that this sentence speaks for itself.

100. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page S, the seventh paragraph says:

"(This multilith volume will be sent upon receipt of $3.50, and the printed book will be mailed, at no additional cost, as soon as published.)"

101. The pioneers were selling the Multilith Big Book for over $60 in today's dollars. They were also offering to send a copy of the hardcover First Edition of the Big Book, at no additional charge, when it was printed.

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